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Sunset in Boracay
Sunset in Boracay
Ted Irvine

I took a vacation and you should too

It’s harder than ever to create space away from work. The unwritten expectation in this connected world seems to be that you are available wherever you are. Vacations open up an even trickier set of tensions: the pressure of deadlines, not wanting to let your teammates down, or a general fear of not being… at work.

But study after study shows: time away from work means time recharging the creative synapses. It’s actually vital for your work to take a vacation.

Marisol, April, and Santos on the Beach

Low tide and shell collecting on Agta Beach

We offer 2 weeks minimum vacation (you must take at least two weeks off), and we offer team members not already working remotely the ability to work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection for up to a month at a time. Daily schedules are flexible as well: we have morning stand ups and a fair number of meetings, but we allow people to step away to handle things that life brings.

As a Senior Design Director, my job is split between making sure our design is outstanding and our team members are empowered/happy/productive. Even with the available options, getting folks to create space and take vacations is one of the toughest parts of my job. We’re lucky to have a team of dedicated, excited people who like work, but that dedication can sometimes make folks forget to take a break. Unless there are people on the team actively taking advantage of, and talking about the benefits of getting away/changing scenery, no one actually does these things.

In particular, team leadership has to demonstrate that time away is not just ok, but actually valuable.

In order for people to think that you can take a three week vacation, or work remotely for a month, you need to lead by doing. Without an example, only the bravest team members seem to believe the words that have been said to them, and take these policies to heart.

And so, I took a 3 week vacation to see family in the Philippines. Here is what I learned:

Sunset

Sunset at Agta Beach Resort

  • First and most important: the islands are as beautiful as I remember.

  • Eight years is too long between trips.

  • You can take toddlers on flights longer than 15 hours and live.

  • Work goes on without me and that is ok! It means we have an empowered team.

  • Work will be there when you get back.

  • Getting away from the internet is wonderful.

  • Getting away from the internet is hard.

  • Time off gives perspective, bringing increased focus and clarity when I return to the office.

  • It gave me the space to not think about work at all.

  • I love being on the water!

  • I hate spiders! (seriously, this was on my wall: a huntsman spider)

  • I love spending real time with my family.

  • I love my job.

  • I will be doing this again.

Sambawan Island

Sambawan Island looking out to Maripipi Island

What's next for me? This summer I will be working remotely from Key West, so I can spend some time with my daughter and my parents. I'm also putting together more thoughts and plans around how we can better encourage people to step away from their work, how teams can stay strong while they're gone. It benefits all of us, and the products we build.

What is next for the rest of the Product Team? My hope is that y’all see that we mean what we say: take vacation, go work from somewhere amazing, enjoy life, and do great work. Set your OOTO message, delete email/Slack from your phone.

Go. Live. Life.

Work will be here when you get back.